Exhibits Go Interactive

Feb 01, 2003
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Todayís competitive medical convention environments challenge pharma companies to differentiate their products as well as the experiences they offer attendees. Interactive promotions are a powerful way to build on the success of companiesí exhibit and booth resources and, by adding a host of rich media featuresóvideo segments, interactive content, and medical animationsóenhance viewersí understanding of their products and messages. Employing e-marketing programs in the convention space also allows pharma marketers to tailor established messages for multiple target audiences within a selected promotional strategy, thereby saving time and money.

Integrating traditional marketing practices with e-marketing tactics at medical meetings can greatly enhance the physician learning experience, foster a more dynamic interaction between sales representatives and attendees, and achieve greater connectivity between pharma marketers and their key constituentsótherapeutic category thought leaders.

Both physicians and pharma companies achieve mutual benefits from dynamic, evidence-based interactive tools. Physicians benefit by receiving preference-based programming with direct impact on their daily medical practice that eliminates irrelevant information. Simultaneously, pharma companies benefit from providing a stronger brand message and gain physician time and engagement, thus elevating their competitive share of voice at the convention. Post-meeting follow-up with customers is more timely and targeted, thereby prolonging contact with key constituents. The incorporation of technology and multimedia creates an enhanced presentation, which stimulates physician understanding and acceptance of key messages.

To Have and to Hold

Convention booth activities are structured to create rapid interaction between pharma sales reps and healthcare professionals. Although doctors generally attend conventions to satisfy continuing medical education and licensing requirements, they almost always spend time with pharma companies to stay informed about the latest in pharmaceutical technologies and therapeutic developments. Both exhibit designs and brand promotions must attract physiciansí attention the minute they approach and enter the booth. By immediately engaging physicians through interactive media, pharma companies can extend the duration and comprehension of each encounter.

Simultaneously, sales reps must evaluate and profile prospective customers and determine what information will be relevant to those attendees. Using interactive technology óa graphic user interface, animated treatment simulations, and electronic testimonial segments from key opinion leadersópharma companies can grab physiciansí attention, helping them to differentiate their brandsí promotional and scientific messages from their competitorsí. Thus, an interactive convention kiosk supports traditional booth materials, such as product literature and clinical reprints, and significantly expands a companyís reach by offering visitors dynamic and highly visual representations of its productsí benefits and profile.

Interactive exhibits deliver brand information using a touch-activated menu that physicians can, based on their individual preferences, quickly select and access the brand information they deem pertinent. In essence, the attendees, rather than sales reps, direct the flow of information. (See ìInteractively Intriguing,î page 20.)

Closing the Loop

Interactive kiosks offer another important advantage to pharma marketers and visiting physicians: easy data collection. Instead of requiring visitors to complete paper-based forms and surveys, marketers can eliminate the expense and inefficiencies of data entry and list acquisition by seamlessly aggregating visitor data electronically into a single resource. That enables physicians to review information on demand and even access accredited CME programs at or after the meeting.

For pharma brand managers and sales reps, electronic registration allows further analysis of user interest, page views, time spent at the booth, and other complex data, all automated so it can be archived and managed for later use. That wealth of information allows marketers to create and target subsequent e-mail, handheld, and traditional direct-to-physician campaigns. It also helps sales reps harvest better-qualified leads by bringing the message into the physicianís practiceóin effect, closing the loop between convention attendees and the pharma company.

Interactive convention promotions by no means eliminate the many benefits of sales repsí involvement. They serve instead as a conduit between reps and inquisitive physicians, before and after they visits the event.

Pharma companies keep high profiles at professional meetings to communicate with their constituents and attendees. Dozens of booths at each meeting compete for a share of voice and, therefore, companies need to explore innovative ways to differentiate themselves and to provide more compelling means for physician education and follow up. To that end, an astute strategy that combines e-based and conventional marketing tactics is instrumental in garnering physiciansí attention and increasing brand awareness. Ultimately, that may translate to increased market share.

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